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Cuomo signs law weakening presidential pardon power

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Washington Post photo by Toni L. Sandys/File Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a law limiting presidential pardon power in New York state.
October 16, 2019 02:51 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Wednesday so-called double jeopardy legislation that would weaken presidential pardon powers.

A key part of the Attorney General’s program bill, the legislation would close what proponents called a legal loophole that would let pardoned individuals with ties to the president get away with criminal acts — particularly criminal acts to protect or serve the president.

“Closing the double jeopardy loophole will help to prevent the possible abuse of the pardon power by creating mechanism to ensure pardons are properly used and that New York can hold individuals accountable for their actions,” Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-9, said in a statement Wednesday.

The new law would apply only to pardoned individuals who have a conflict of interest with the president. This includes being related to the president, having worked in the White House or on the president’s campaign, or having committed crimes for the president or to help the president avoid criminal prosecution.

“The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law,” Cuomo said in a press release.

The law was signed at a time that Cuomo and state Legislators have raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s conduct, which Lentol explained as the use of presidential powers “with bad intentions.”

“When there is an abuse of power and inaction at the federal level to check that abuse, a state must be prepared to act to ensure individuals are held accountable,” he said.

Massarah Mikati covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at mmikati@columbiagreenemedia.com, or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.